Thursday, November 7, 2019



      The Bible speaks quite a bit about forgiving and being forgiven.  In one passage, we see  Luke 5:20  And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 
But in another passage we see this: Matthew 6:14-15  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

          In the first passage we see Jesus responding to a man's faith and granting forgiveness and in the second passage Jesus says our forgiveness is contingent upon our granting forgiveness to others.  

         To further confuse things, we read this from the Apostle John:     1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

              No caveat, no fine print, just plain simple language -if you confess your sin, God forgives your sin. So how do we reconcile Jesus' words with Jesus' words and with the Apostle John also?

             Understanding the difference between positional forgiveness and relational forgiveness is the key. 

Positional Forgiveness:
             Positional Forgiveness is when we are born again and adopted as children of God through the blood of Jesus. We are positionaly forgiven.  Positional forgiveness means we take on the righteousness of Christ and all our sins, past and future, will not be held against us. This happens at salvation and does not change. 

Relational Forgiveness:
             Relational forgiveness is what we need each day to remain in fellowship with the Father.  Though we are declared righteous, we continue to sin and sin hinders our relationship with God.  Sin restricts our blessings, sin restricts our usefulness, sin restricts our answers to prayer.  

         So in the above passages, when Jesus says, "man, your sins are forgiven," based solely on the man's faith, this is positional forgiveness.  When Jesus said, "if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you," this is relational forgiveness.  Relational forgiveness does not affect our salvation but it does affect our lives and relationship with God.  Positional forgiveness declares you not guilty while relational forgiveness protects your relationship.

           OJ Simpson had a very famous trial, charged with killing his wife and a man named Ron Goldman.  When the gloves didn't fit, the jury had to acquit and OJ was declared not guilty.

           What many may not remember is there was also a civil trial where OJ was sued by the family of Ron Goldman for wrongful death.  In the civil trial, OJ was found liable and ordered to pay a hefty sum to the Goldman family.

            Positionally, OJ was not guilty and would not be punished for double murder.  Relationally, to the Goldman family, OJ is guilty.  Because OJ is relationally guilty, his reputation is forever tarnished, his acting career is over and he is not very well liked by most people.  

            Another example is, my daughter adopted a child.  That child, positionally is my grandson.  He will always be my grandson and nothing he can do can change his place in the family.  What happens if he comes over and spits in my face? Is he no longer my grandson?  No of course not, but our relationship is damaged because he has done a terrible thing.  Maybe the fishing trip I was planning with him gets canceled or the gift I bought for him is put to the side.  Now what happens when he comes over and apologizes and asks for forgiveness?  The fishing trip is back on, the gift is given and everything returns to normal.

              Positionally, my grandson never stopped being my grandson, but relationally, we were not so good until he sought forgiveness.  

                Now, just for a moment, suppose my other grandson spit in grandson number one's face.  Suppose grandson number 2 then went to grandson number 1 and apologized and asked for forgiveness but grandson number one told him to get lost.  I love them both and I want them to love one another so what happens when grandson number 1 comes to me for forgiveness for something he is not willing to forgive his brother?  I might direct him to go forgive his brother first and then come back.  I want his and my relationship restored but I also want his relationship with his brother restored.

                 Why is this important?  Well, many of us who are believers in Christ are estranged from the Father because of our unforgiveness toward others. Though positionally, you are a child of God, and going to heaven, relationally  you feel as if your prayers are not answered, you feel distance between you and God and you may not understand why.  

                When we do not forgive others, it harms us far more than it harms them.  Some of us have quite a bit to forgive , some of us have been treated horribly by someone, maybe even someone who was entrusted with our care, like a parent.  

                 Forgiveness does not mean placing yourself in danger or allowing yourself to be in a position to be harmed again. The Bible says we need to forgive, the Bible does not say we have to forget.  I may forgive you for punching me but I probably won't give you another opportunity to punch me.  

                When we fail to forgive, it does us far more harm than the person who wronged us. Often, the person who wronged us has gone off on their merry and we are not even a thought to them. But for us, we spend time hating and growing bitter and maybe even harming ourselves over it.  Forgiveness not only sets the person who wronged us free, it sets us free.  

                 So I ask  you today, are you harboring hatred or animosity toward someone?  Have you harmed yourself or others because of something someone has done to you?  Set yourself free, forgive.  Think of all the terrible things you have done and know God forgives you.  
                 Maybe the person or people you are struggling with forgiving do not deserve forgiveness.  That may be true. Do you deserve forgiveness from God?  Did Jesus deserve to die on the cross for you? 

            This is a tough thing, but a necessary thing.  If you are harboring unforgiveness in your heart, you have imprisoned yourself.  God wants to bless you and speak to you and restore your life but He will not if you cannot forgive. Do not let the actions of someone else cause you to harm your relationship with God.

            Pray, even now, ask God to grant you the grace to forgive.  If you are a believer in Christ, you are positionally righteous in the eyes of God, yet, you may need to find relational peace through forgiveness of others.

            Romans 12:17-18  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 

          Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!


Thursday, October 31, 2019


               When it comes to spiritual matters, what you don't know can hurt you. Hosea 4:6  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;

 Knowing what you believe and why you believe it is the greatest protection from attacks on your faith. The difference between Knowing God vs knowing about God can be the difference in questioning your faith or standing firm when skeptics cast doubt on the character of God. If you only know what others have told you about God, you may run into trouble.

         Many years ago, when I pastored a church in Florida, I had a home office and in my home office was a very ornate bong.  Someone coming for counseling could have easily left and told people, "hey, that pastor has a bong in his office."  This would have been true, but the reaction to this news would certainly have varied based on the level of intimacy I had with the person who heard about it.

          For instance, my wife, or someone who knew me and the actual reason the bong was in my office might have responded, "yeah, isn't that cool."  Someone who knew me well but didn't know why the bong was in my office would hopefully have given me the benefit of the doubt and assumed there was a perfectly good reason or even thought the person reporting this was somehow mistaken. Hopefully, my character would speak for itself.  

            But, what if someone did not really know me well at all?  What if someone had only a passing acquaintance with me and heard I had a bong in my office?  Naturally, this person would assume the worst.  I would be tainted and untrustworthy to the person, whose only knowledge of me is what they had heard.  

             As it turns out, the bong was actually a hookah pipe from Yemen and was used as a ministry tool by American missionaries sharing the Gospel with Muslims. It was given to me as a gift by a missionary to Yemen.  Very innocent, yet what someone believed about me owning a bong would be determined greatly by how well they knew me.

              The same thing goes for God, obviously, on a much grander scale.  If your knowledge of God and the Bible comes from a weekly regurgitation on Sunday morning, you are in great danger of falling into error.  If you are a believer in Christ, why would you be satisfied with merely knowing about God when you can actually know God?

                 If you have any kind of social media presence and you post or tweet about your faith, chances are you have been challenged, trolled or otherwise engaged by atheists or skeptics.  Many atheists claim go be former believers who have been enlightened to truth.  It does not take long for skeptics to discover if you have actually studied the Bible for yourself or if you only know what you have been told about the Bible, and once they  smell blood in the water, they go for the big attack.

             Our spiritual lives cannot be sustained by an hour or two of church each week.  What if you only ate physical food for an hour each week? What kind of shape do you think you would be in?  Imagine the health issues brought on by malnourishment, imagine the lack of energy and strength.  Our spiritual lives are no different. If you only supply spiritual needs for one hour each week you are spiritually starved. 

              Are you prepared to answer skeptics when they accuse your Father of genocide?  Are you prepared to stand firm when pseudo science is presented as "evidence" against a literal 6 day creation?  Are you prepared to explain the difference between living by the Law or living in grace when challenged?  How do you handle the question, "doesn't the Bible say it is a sin to get tattoos?"

              These are all arguments skeptics will use to derail your faith.  How you stand up to attack will be determined by how well you know God and His Word.  
                 2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 

               Do you have a high enough view of scripture?  Is the Bible really your final authority on matters of faith and practice?  What happens when your lifestyle conflicts with the clear teaching of scripture, do you repent, do you ignore the truth or do you somehow attempt to justify your behavior through rationalization? 

                There is only one way to know God: spending time with Him.  The amount of time you intentionally dedicate to prayer, Bible study and worship will determine how well you know the Father.  "But I don't have time" is a lame excuse.  Let me ask you this, when was the last time you were so busy you missed dinner?  When was the last time you missed your favorite TV show because you were too busy?

                Chances are, you do not miss many dinners for lack of time.  Why, because dinner is important to you, because it is something you deem necessary.  When you claim to not have time to invest in your spiritual life, you are really saying, "my spiritual life is not really that important." We schedule what is important.

              If you are not where you need to be spiritually, allow me to encourage you to develop a healthy daily, time of prayer, Bible study and worship.  Allow me to encourage you to get to know the Savior you claim to follow.  It is very difficult to follow someone whom you cannot recognize.  

                  If your spiritual life is vibrant, allow me to encourage you to encourage others. Be an example and a mentor to those who are newer to the faith and spiritually immature. 1 Thessalonians 5:14  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 

                 Scripture tells us we will reap what we sow.  Are you sowing to the Spirit, if not, you cannot reap the Fruit of the Spirit. Scripture also says those who sow to the wind will reap the whirlwind.  Do not allow the enemy to wreck your faith because you failed to spend time with the Father.  Do not allow your lack of knowledge, readily available and very accessible knowledge, lead to your destruction.

                 When you read, pray, worship and fellowship with other believers, you will grow spiritually and be equipped to stand up to attacks on your faith.  By knowing God and His word you will recognize error when it is presented. There is no reason for any of us to be destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


     "What is truth?"  this question was famously asked by Pontius Pilate as he questioned Jesus.  Today, we are told each of us has our own truth, validating perception, no matter how flawed.  It has been said, "there is no absolute truth," to which I ask, "absolutely?"  

       Have you ever known someone who responded negatively to you based on what they expected of you, rather than anything you actually said or did?  This can be very frustrating.  How we perceive a situation may not be reality and often our perceptions are formed before we have an adequate amount of information.  

           Did you know, scientific misperception led to some pretty bizarre and comical conclusions?  Up until the 19th century, the scientific community believed, and taught, living things spontaneously generated from inanimate matter.  For instance, it was believed maggots spontaneously grew in rotten meat.  Even Aristotle, as brilliant as he was thought to be, declared some animals were the product of spontaneous generation. It was not until 1859 the idea of spontaneous generation was debunked once and for all.

     While the idea of science getting it so wrong for lack of understanding may be comical, what is not so funny is misperceiving spiritual things.  Misperceiving the spiritual can have eternal consequences.  

      Many present when Jesus was arrested and put to death did not understand the purpose behind all they had just witnessed.  Christ's followers felt abandoned, afraid and probably a little foolish for following after one who promised so much and delivered, as they perceived, nothing.  Even after the resurrection, some were dejected, discouraged and confused. Two such men decided to leave Jerusalem and head to the town of Emmaus, probably to reassess their lives and figure out what to do next.

            The account of these two men is found in Luke 24:13-35.  What follows demonstrates how perception of events outside the context of God is often flawed and bad decisions often follow misperceptions.  

              Luke 24:13-16  That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 

             Theses two men decided to leave Jerusalem and head to a neighboring town.  Most likely, they were very discouraged, confused and afraid. Little did they know, Jesus was with them. It appears, these men did not seek God on their decision to leave Jerusalem, as we will see, they were not meant to flee.

               Many times, life happens and takes us by surprise or we become discouraged by a turn of events we were not quite expecting. These are times we may feel alienated or even abandoned by God.  The lesson in this passage:  God is right there beside us, every step of the way, whether we sense His presence or not. When God promises to never leave us nor forsake us, He means it.  When the Psalmist wrote, "yea I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me," he is not saying this because he feels overwhelmed by the presence of God, but, rather, because he trusts God to be there as promised. The very nature of the valley of the shadow of death is a place of darkness and impending doom. 

         Luke 24:17-24  And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 

                I wonder if Jesus was just a little amused as he listened to Cleopas explain why he and his friend were so dejected. As these men walked with Jesus, they explained why they were upset.  Even though they did not realize it, they were speaking to the One who had the answers, the One who understood the big picture.

              How often do we struggle on our own, never seeking answers from God, who knows all.  Instead, we are often content with discontent, trying to figure things out on our own.  God actually wants to hear from us as any loving parent would.     

                   Luke 24:25-27  And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.                          

                Jesus, perhaps a wee bit frustrated, patiently explains to these two men how everything they just related was tied to scripture and happened according to God's plan.  Jesus revealed prophecies concerning Himself, undoubtedly starting with Genesis 3:15 and teaching through the writing of the prophets.  The entire Bible is the story of God's redeeming love for a creation which rebelled against Him.  Jesus showed these men, He was always plan A and there never was a plan B.

              Often, we attempt to reason situations and circumstances according to human logic, forgetting there is a spiritual component to everything we experience. Discouragement, disillusionment and dejection are all by products of viewing our circumstances from a purely human perspective.  Like Cleopas and his companion on the road, until we realize a sovereign God is, and always has been, at work behind the scenes, we are in danger of giving in to hopelessness.  Romans 8:28 has almost become cliched in Christian circles, however, we cannot forget the truth found in it: All things work together for good, for them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  

               Mick Jagger told us, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."  Mick Jagger did not understand the sovereignty of a loving God who always gives us what we need, even when we perceive the bottom has fallen out.             
            The wisdom of man cannot fathom the depth of the sovereignty of God.  God allows us to exercise unlimited free will and still manages to tie all things together in order to accomplish His will. The two men perceived Jesus had failed and fled Jerusalem.  It was revealed to them the necessity of the Messiah's death for the salvation of mankind. Once they had a heavenly perspective everything suddenly made sense.

            Luke 24:28-33  So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther,  but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem.

                 Once these two men realized they were acting on faulty perception, they immediately reversed course and headed back to Jerusalem.  If we operate on faulty assumptions, our behavior will be counterproductive.  Once we see things from a heavenly perspective, our behavior should follow our faith.  Behavior based on bad perception is often counterproductive and, sometimes, self destructive.  When all hope is lost, what matters anymore?  

                 It is paramount to our survival, spiritual and even physical, to understand God is intricately involved in every aspect of our lives, whether we are aware of His presence or not.  Cling to His promises, remember His past faithfulness and stay rooted in scripture.  Ask God to reveal His perspective in seemingly hopeless situations and most importantly, keep your eyes on Him and not your circumstances.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell! 

Monday, September 2, 2019


      So, what do you get when you take the beautifully dark musical composition of Myles Barfield and mix it with the multi-ranged talents of legendary vocalist Dale Thompson?  You get an amazing  audio experience called Haunted No More.  Brought to you by the same musical genius as Dabster Gentlemen , Haunted No More presents a musical experience of depth, meaning and contemplation.  

            Unlike the upbeat, genre defying, work of Dabster, HNM leads the listener down a quieter path of reflection touching on themes of the heart and focusing on the redemption and freedom which can only be found in a right relationship with Jesus Christ.  

             The theme of HNM's debut, Volume 1, is recognizing the sufficiency of Christ and no longer being haunted by circumstances or the folly of others.  This is not only reflected in Thompson's powerful lyrics, but also captured in the piano laden compositions of Barfield, who somehow manages to evoke raw emotion through the music itself.  The listener cannot help but feel moved by the power of the marriage of heartfelt music and vocals.  Barfield and Thompson seem to have a Page and Plant chemistry as each artist's contribution to this album has a natural symbiosis where the listener experiences the themes of God's sufficiency even in the midst of trial and the chaos of a world opposed to God.  

             Psalm 73 and 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 lay the groundwork for HNM Vol 1. Though all may seem hopeless, in Christ hope abounds.  

       Neo-classical in style, HNM's music and message is very relevant and and fresh, and never veers off or distracts the listener from the idea of rediscovering hope and joy, even when all hope seems lost.  

     The first track, Midnight in the Middle of the Day, opens with light piano and rhythm leading into Thompson's contemplative and soulful vocals. From the first song, the listener will realize this album goes beyond merely entertaining into a realm of thoughtful reflection.  The musical composition soothes the spirit while the lyrics will draw introspection and a sense of God's awesome magnitude.  

       I Sleep (Internal Journey I) is up next, drawing the listener to the very edge of darkness.  With  light piano, some cymbals, and Thompson's layered vocals, demonstrating his amazing range, the recipe leaves hints of Moody Blues on the listener's palate.  

     Track number 3, The Miracle in You reminds us the sacrifice of Christ was a voluntary act of love.  This song sets the tone for the hope in the midst of hopelessness.  Very similar in musical composition to the previous tracks, one gets the sense of   a trilogy of songs where, first we are asked to contemplate the vastness of the universe, then contemplation turns inward to our spiritual need, while Miracle in You leads us to the one event in all of human history bringing hope to mankind.  

             I Wanna Have Church switches gears slightly, a mournful ode to local church lost to demolition when Dale Thompson was a youth. I Wanna Have Church is clearly the flagship song on this album.  The pairing of Barfield's composition and Thompson's vocal intonations is pure melodic magic. Somehow, a never heard before song manages to evoke a nostalgia for a place previously unknown to the listener.  Thompson sings in a lower register but layers in his signature sound behind the main vocal track, reminding the listener Thompson's range surpasses even Axel Rose.  

         Never Turned My Back on You remains true to the overall sound of HNM while giving fans of classic Bride ballads a taste of Thompson's signature rasp, only teased at in the previous track.  

        No End But God reminds us there is life beyond what we currently experience and reveals a purpose in suffering.

        From the Lord's Cup picks up the tempo slightly and starts off as a jaunty tune dealing with the theme of suffering as Jesus suffered for the Gospel.  The tempo, slows in the middle and picks back up in the third part. The tempo change ups seem to be revelatory of the Christian life, on which many embark with joy, yet may begin to question when persecution or resistance comes, only to see joy spring forth as understanding the purpose of suffering for the sake of the Gospel manifests.         
                  I Will Praise You reminds us of God's goodness, even in the midst of the storms of life. God is worthy of praise, not necessarily for the storm, but because of God's goodness beyond whatever circumstance in which we may find ourselves. 

      The Sky of Nothingness, a powerful piano ballad with a slight Floydian flavor, dealing with the topic of the meaning of life. The musical composition grabs the listener deep within.  Barfield's arrangement and presentation produces an emotional draw at the heartstrings that cannot be ignored.

         Filter (Internal Journey II) a warning to not filter our expression of God's image imprinted on us, nor the message of God's word.

         Not Every Story  reminds us not every story has a happy ending yet every thing from our past can serve as a lesson for our present.  Not Every Story could easily be a second single release. Musically, Barfield presents a powerful sound and Thompson reminds the listener he is a rock singer at heart.  Not Every Story finds both artists in the zone leaving no doubt each is doing what he was gifted by God to do.

         Into the Hole is a mournful recognition of the power of fear and depression in the frailty of the human heart. Our own power is insufficient to pull us out of the well of despair we often flee to as a respite from the trials of life. God's power and light is the only thing able to rescue us from pits of hopelessness.

       Haunted No More brings forth an album which seems important. The listener will find relevance and purpose in each song.  Hauntingly beautiful and pregnant with purpose, Haunted No More has created an album for it's time, presenting the hope of God in an often dark and joyless world. 

      It has been my pleasure to listen to and review this album.  Highly recommended!

        Available to listen on Spotify, or, better yet, order your own copy here!



Friday, August 9, 2019


What is hope? The dictionary defines hope as "a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen." Expecting what we desire to happen is a great motivation to continue moving forward, to continue trying, but what happens when you have exhausted all possibilities and there no longer exists a way for desire to be met? Hopelessness happens. What happens when we give up hope? We may do dangerous and self destructive things.

Maybe, today, you have given up hope or are on the brink of giving up hope. Maybe you have decided hope is for suckers and just don't care any more. You would not be the first person to feel this way. What follows is two true stories of people who gave up hope only to have an encounter with God which changed everything. One very old story and one in modern times.

 1 Kings 17:9  “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 
   At the time of the above passage, there was a severe famine in Israel.  Elijah the prophet was serving God faithfully, when he received the above command.  The only problem with the plan was, no one told the widow.  

1 Kings 17:10-12  So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.”  And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 

And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”

         God told Elijah the plan, but the widow, apparently, had no idea. By the time Elijah showed up, the woman had come to the conclusion all hope was gone. The water dried up, no crops could grow and the widow was down to her last handful of flour and oil, enough to make a small biscuit, maybe.  

          The widow had given up hope, she saw no way out of her situation.  Her husband was dead, the land was in drought and even if it started raining that very day, by the time new food grew, she and her son would have died of starvation long before any food came available

     There was no way, humanly possible, for this lady to get out of this situation. Undoubtedly she exhausted every effort and thought through every scenario possible to save her son's life and concluded there was no hope.  

      Perhaps today, you are looking at a situation and see no possible way to avoid disaster.  You have exhausted all resources, you have examined the problem from every possible angle and have concluded there is no possible way to undo the mess.  Maybe you are right, maybe there is nothing humanly possible which can change your situation.  I can tell you this: even though there is not a humanly possible way out for you, there is still hope. 

       You see, the widows story does not end with the prophet walking away and the widow going home to die. God has purpose for this lady and when God is involved, the impossible becomes possible.  God has purpose for you, just like He had for this unnamed widow.

1 Kings 17:13-16  And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’”  And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah. 
        Though the widow had no idea God had a plan for her, He certainly did.  She could have told Elijah he was crazy, gone home and followed her original plan, yet she did not.  Something caused the widow to trust God in her impossible situation and, supernaturally, God provided.  Supernaturally, the situation changed.  

     Though you may feel completely abandoned and hopeless, the truth is, God has a way out for you.  God has a purpose for you and He wants to transform you and your life.  The key is trusting God can lead you in a way where there is no way.  The widow saw no way out, had no way out, until she encountered God.  

       Life throws some pretty terrible things our way. Sometimes, the unthinkable happens, yet, in the midst of disaster, there is still hope as God is bigger than any situation in which we may find ourselves.  

        The second story of hope takes place in modern times.  It is also a true story:

           Susie Edwards found herself divorced with 2 small children, at the age of 23. (If you want to read Susie's full story, Click Here) Susie remarried and raised her children, however, by the time the children were grown, she found herself divorced and alone.  This is when Susie began drinking.    

          Susie's drinking increased and eventually she moved to another town for a job, where she met Bob. Bod didn't drink much, but Bob introduced Susie to drugs and both developed an addiction which cost them everything they owned.  Susie and Bob knew if they continued on the path they were on, it would lead to death or prison.  

        In an attempt to get clean, Susie and Bob left town to make a new start but due to bad behavior found themselves homeless. Through the obedience of a woman whom God directed to pick them up, Susie and Bob learned about a local ministry. Attending the local ministry, Susie and Bob were able to meet God in a real way and experience the transformation only He can bring.

  What was available to Susie is available to all.  No matter how dark or bleak your situation may seem, God can lead you to a better place.  God wants to lead you to a better place.  

     God is the restorer of broken lives .  There is nothing God will ask of you or require of you for which He has not equipped you.  If you are broken, if your life seems shattered, if you see no way possible, God makes a way when there is no way.

       Faith in Christ is the first step in restoring hope. The doorway to God is Jesus. The Father waits for you with open arms and desires a relationship with you.  God brings hope to the hopeless by creating opportunities where none exist. Psalm 34:8  Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! The man or woman who seeks refuge in God will not be forsaken. 

          Please do not miss out on what God has in store for you because everything seems hopeless. When life is hopeless you can still find hope in God.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!


Thursday, August 1, 2019


  1. 1.
    an ornamental border of threads left loose or formed into tassels or twists, used to edge clothing or material.
  1. 1.
    not part of the mainstream; unconventional, peripheral, or extreme.


Mark 5:25-29  And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years,  and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.   She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 

               Have you ever felt out of place or that you just don't fit in with what society has decided is normal?  Maybe you are a little edgy or maybe you have been let down by those who should have had your back.  For whatever reason, you feel withdrawn from the mainstream, God desires a relationship with you.

               Culture determines, many times based on arbitrary ideas, who fits in and who does not.  Feeling misplaced is not something exclusive to one segment of society.  You can feel misplaced in luxury or living on the streets, you can feel misplaced in suburbia or in a city with millions around you.  Often, society defines fringey  people by appearance, however, there are many who put on a suit and tie everyday who feel just as out of step with mainstream society as a gal with a purple mohawk.  

             Many hide or deny their feelings of isolation from "normal" while others embrace who they are and don't care who likes it.  The truth is, there are many more people on the fringe of society than most people realize.  Jesus is Lord of the Fringe.  

             If you look at the people with whom Jesus associated, you will realize, He was not calling the mainstream people who had no sense of need in their lives.  Jesus went to those who were hurting, left out and isolated.  Even John the Baptist, before Jesus, was in the wilderness ministering, not in the town square or in the synagogues.  Mark 2:17  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” 

             God also demonstrated this truth in the account of the woman with the issue of blood, mentioned above.  This woman knew if she could just touch the fringe of Christ's garment, she would be healed. You can read more about on this here: Grabbing the Fringe of Jesus' Garment   Being on the Fringe of society herself, due to health issues, this lady reached out to Jesus and was healed.

            Being Fringey does not mean excusing or ignoring sin, it means being who God has allowed you to be for His glory, using the personality and style God has allowed you to develop through all your life's experiences.  The call to holiness is still one of most important pursuits of any believer.  Being fringey does not redefine sin either, in fact, our goal is to help the individual pursue God's best and seek inward change, which will manifest in changed behavior. 

           In other words, you may not trade the black t-shirt for a suit, but you might change the design or message on the shirt.  You may not trade your sweater vest in for a leather jacket, but you will feel comfortable with who God has you to be and minister to others within your gifting and calling.

           If you consider yourself on the outside looking in, for whatever reason, Jesus has a seat for you at His table.  God loves you as you are but loves you too much to leave you that way.  

           Know you are loved, know you can find forgiveness and community in Christ.  Know you have been designed with purpose and God has adventure for you.  Join those of us who have joined Jesus on the Fringe and watch God rock your world

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!


Thursday, July 25, 2019


 This month, Michael Brunner, son of Charles Manson, gave an interview for the first time since 1993.  Michael Brunner comes across as a soft spoken laid back sort.  Not at all what one would expect from the son of, arguably, the most notorious mad man in American history. In the interview, Brunner spoke about his life, growing up, and his adult years, and the one thing which came across was how utterly normal he is.  Absent was the expected self pity of a man growing up in the shadow of a beast, missing was the darkness one would expect from a man wrestling with the fact he is the spawn of evil incarnate.  Instead, what you will find, is a man who genuinely seems like a nice guy, who has lived a productive life.          

      What about you?  Are you a product of your heritage or environment?  Are you a prisoner of your past or a victim of your lineage?  Have you allowed circumstances beyond your control to determine your destiny?  These are all traps set for you by the Great Deceiver, designed to destroy any chance you have of finding true peace and purpose.

         Everyone has obstacles in life, granted, some more than others, yet history is rife with people who overcame incredible odds and did great things.  Also true, prisons, rehab centers, homeless camps and cemeteries are filled with people who were unable to shake free of  poor parenting and dark family histories.  

           What determines the path of being an overcomer vs. being a victim of circumstance?  How can it be when out of three children in one family, presumably raised the same , one goes into ministry, one becomes president of the United States and one becomes an infamous drunk with a novelty beer named after him?  Personal choice and the exercise of free will.

            Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Notice what this passage does not say: "unless your parents abused you, or you were bullied, or your spouse was unfaithful, or you come from a long line of drunks, or, or, or...."  God makes no caveat, creates no loophole and leaves no room for excuses.

            Horrible things happen to children everyday. There is no way to sugar coat or minimize this truth.  People do unthinkable things to other people. Trauma is real.  So is the power of God to overcome trauma, deep hurt and devastation.  God will never call us to or require us to do something for which for which He will not empower us.  

           It isn't even about choosing the narrow path, it's about choosing God, who will place you on the narrow path and guide you along. It's all God.  In fact, it takes us acknowledging we cannot do it under our own strength.  Every aspect of our relationship with God is acknowledging our weakness and failure, understanding He has made a remedy for our inability to please Him on our own. 

             1 Corinthians 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

               We all face temptation to do bad things. Some of us struggle in areas others do not.  What we all have in common is a God who provides a way for us to not give in to our strongest, darkest urges.  God is not some cosmic killjoy who arbitrarily prohibits us from fun.  God has set us parameters to keep us safe, both physically and spiritually.  In addition, God offers us the opportunity to rely on His power and strength to avoid what He has forbidden.

            Some are predisposed to certain bad behavior. This is indisputable.  Whether it is due to trauma, genetics, poor discipline as a child or any other number of reasons.  "That's just how I am" is the motto of cowards who are willing to admit there is a problem, but not willing to address the problem, deciding everyone else will just have to put up with whatever erratic or self destructive behavior they exhibit.  It is also the motto of the defeated who may have genuinely attempted to change, only to realize they did not have it in them to accomplish the task. 

             Often, destructive behavior took years to develop and rarely ends immediately after a single prayer or commitment to God.  Destroyed relationships take time to rebuild, consequences for past misdeeds my stick for life.  These are all hard truths of the Christian faith often not mentioned from the pulpit.  Listening to some of our more popular voices, one might be led to believe the Christian life is rainbows, unicorns and ice cream and if you're not experiencing these, you're not doing Christianity right.  

             So what value is there in pursuing God and allowing Him to bring restoration?  Breaking the cycle of broken relationships, breaking the cycle of personal failure, breaking the cycle of self destructive behavior.  God offers the opportunity to be a new creation.  2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

          The opportunity to break free of a heritage or past trauma is a gift God offers His children.  You do not have to allow your past to govern your future. Neither your heritage nor your victimization has the right to determine the script of your life.  Instead, you can get a re-write by the Author of Life, Himself.  

           You are highly treasured and valued by God, no matter what anyone has led you to believe. The late Brennan Manning stated, "every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."  Do not be discouraged looking at the lives of those who seem to have it all together or who appear to have never suffered anything in life, you may be surprised the things from which God has delivered people you know.

           My prayer is, if you have suffered because of circumstances beyond your control and suffering has led you to self destructive behavior, you will know, today, you are loved and precious. You can find freedom in Christ from the prison of your past, forgiveness for all you have done and acceptance in a community of believers, many of whom, have overcome the very things with which you are struggling.

            Jesus calls you to Himself, arms wide open, offering shelter, love, forgiveness and peace. Jesus has a better plan for your life.  Won't you fall into His arms today and find shelter from the storms of life?

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell


Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Over the last few years, we have been hearing a great deal, in the press, about sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities are cities who have made a conscious decision to not turn illegal immigrants over to the government for deportation.  These cities are safe havens for those who have broken the law by the very act of coming to America. 

       Depending on your view of illegal immigration, you may or may not support the idea of Sanctuary Cities. What you may not know is, the idea of Sanctuary Cities dates back to the earliest days of the nation if Israel. While the concept has been twisted a bit, the idea is certainly not new.               

      Imagine you are out somewhere and you accidentally kill someone, whether it be by neglect, stupidity or just plain happenstance.  Obviously, you would want a chance to clear your name and not be labeled a murderer.  Imagine, also, the person you killed has a close relative who, legally, could hunt you down and kill you in retaliation and the only recourse you have is to flee to a City of Refuge where you will be protected until you can stand trial and clear your name.  

     This was a very real scenario in ancient Israel.  God differentiated between pre-meditated murder and accidental death.  If an Israelite killed another person without intent, he could flee to one of the Cities of Refuge and plead his case.  If the Avenger of Blood, usually a family member of the deceased, caught the killer on the way, the AV could legally kill him.  If the killer made it to the City of Refuge, he would stand trial, and if cleared of murder, could safely live in the City of Refuge, but could not leave as long as the current High Priest lived.  If the man cleared of murder stepped out of the City of Refuge before the current High Priest died, he was fair game for the Avenger of Blood.

       Like everything God did with Israel, there is a spiritual connection to our relationship with Jesus Christ.   Isaiah 1:18  “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.   

        These Cities of Refuge served as a type of Christ, a place where one could receive absolution from an accuser.  Today, we face an accuser, Satan, who, scripture tells us, accuses the saints before God's throne, day and night.  Alas, we find refuge in Christ.  Jesus serves as the advocate of our righteousness, a righteousness He purchased for us on the cross.

          Right now, we are surrounded by a multitude of guilty people who have no one to advocate for them. Our role, now, becomes similar to a Sanctuary City in as much as we are to provide safe haven to sinners as we introduce them to the one who can bring them the same absolution given us. We do this by looking beyond the sin and seeing the need, as Jesus did.  

           When Jesus walked among man, He loved on people and then addressed their sin from the context of His compassion and power.  Within the religious community, Jesus was very harsh with those who should have known better, pointing out hypocrisy and sin.  The church seems to have this backwards today.  We excuse all manner of sin within the congregation, yet we are quick to point out sin and pronounce gleeful condemnation on the lost.

            Should we not, as Galatians 6 commands us, gently hold our brothers and sisters accountable for sin while seeking the lost in order to bring them to Jesus for forgiveness?  We forget, the lost are not gong to hell because they sin, the lost sin because they are going to hell.  John 3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 

            Clearly, unbelief is the cause of damnation.  Who among the saved does not sin every day?  

              The role of the believer in this world is to serve as a City of Refuge, a Sanctuary City, where the lost and hurting can learn the truth and meet the One who can clear them of all guilt before they, one day, stand judgement.  As in scripture, not all who fled to the City of Refuge found absolution.  There will be many we invest in, love on and with whom we will share truth, who will, ultimately, reject the message of God's grace.  

                Scripture tells us there is a point where we no longer invest in someone who refuses to respond to the message. Matthew 10:14  And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. This is, however, a decision we come to after much prayer.  Each situation is unique, there is no formula or set timetable.  The key is, we want to give opportunity to the lost.

             Our message is not popular and we should expect a degree of ostracisation from a world bent on serving the flesh.  Looking at what the Apostle Paul suffered for the sake of the Gospel will inform us, we should expect no better.  We must avoid the trap of thinking God owes us something for our obedience.   

             How do we serve as Sanctuary for unbelievers? Here are some practical steps we can begin taking today:

1. Be right with God - we cannot serve as a guide for others if we 
are not moored to the Father, this means an active prayer life            with daily time in the Word.  Think of yourself as a lighthouse,        fixed and strong.

2. Live a life worthy of your calling - Ephesians 4:1  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love 

3. Be nice to people - 2 Timothy 2:24  And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  Rude angry evangelism drives people away.  Remember when Jesus used to stand on the corner of His home town shouting, "Repent you Whoremongers!"  Yeah, me neither. Our evangelism must be born out of love and concern for the lost, lest we drive them away from the Savior whom we have poorly represented.

4. Know what you claim to believe - 2 Timothy 2:15  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Study your Bible. You will schedule what is important in life.  When was the last time you missed dinner because you didn't have time to eat?

5. Be approachable - Galatians 6:3  For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. It does not matter what title you have, what degree you have or what position you hold, what matters is you love others. Jesus called scholars (Saul) and fishermen (Peter) to serve Him and all did so by being available to others.

          The bottom line is, the church is not to try to convict the unbeliever for specific sins, instead, we shed the light of scripture on those sins and allow the Holy Spirit to convict the heart of the sinner. Remember, sin is the symptom of the disease of unbelief. We can treat the symptom and leave the patient dying or we can bring the dying soul to the Fountain of Life, Jesus Christ.

            No sinner is beyond God's love and reach. People are messy and as we involve ourselves in the lives of messy people, we may get a little mess on ourselves as well. Jesus was willing to be covered in wounds, blood and spit for us.  

             Be open to God's direction and calling. Be a person the lost can come to and feel safe when life falls apart for them.  Lead them to the Savior, be a Sanctuary, a safe haven in the time of storms. 

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!